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06 Jan 2017

Safeguarding specialist Deborah Laycock-Serr talks about the importance of recognising safeguarding both online and offline

Merging Worlds

For those of us trying to move the immovable, looking for the tiny glints of light that prove to us that safeguarding practice can change the lives of children, we now have to work smarter to understand the all-pervasive nature of the online world.

If online and offline worlds cannot be separated out then are we also considering our approach to dealing with risk? There should there be equal protection for children both online and offline

We know that the age of children using media devices with the ability to connect to the internet is getting younger and younger, which is why it's really important for professionals and parents to keep up to the ever changing interfaces that children are involved in online.

If we wouldn’t leave children in a playground unsupervised why would we leave them online unsupervised?

Taking control

It’s hard to deny that there have been a number of significant changes within the last 10 years especially in the use of devices and an ‘ever present’ internet connection. 

The children's and parent's media report published by Ofcom tells us that whilst the numbers of children using media such as the internet, television and mobile devices has not changed, their experience of using these devices has been transformed.

It's this transformation which presents a real challenge to both parents and professionals. With changing patterns of consumption we need to be more fluent in children’s online activities.

As a society if we are to get to grips with online safety,  then we have to also overcome our sensitivity over ‘prying versus protection’. For those of us involved in working with children protection wins hands down every time! 

As parents, professionals and educators we should be part of children’s online activity, much as we are part of their offline activity – they are no longer separate activities.

Whilst we may find it uncomfortable taking control, as far as South Korea young people under the age of 19 must install an app that lets parents view and block sites they deem as inappropriate according to an article from the BBC news.

We know that we need to do more to protect the health and well being of children to make sure that their online protection matches the protection offered to them in their offline activities.

Conversations

It’s important that we can find a shared language to talk about children’s online activity, especially when we know that technology is here to stay and is ever evolving.

We also know that it’s important for children to be able to discuss their fears and the influence that technology has on their lives, in order for them to develop independence and self-awareness which in turn will give them a feeling of personal control, so that they are better able to navigate their merging worlds…

How do you protect the children you care for in both the online and offline world? Please leave your comments below.

Author: Deborah Laycock-Serr, Safeguarding Specialist.

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